California man sentenced to 12 years for attempting to join Islamic State

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 07, 2016 3:04 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man who pleaded guilty to trying to join the Islamic State militant group in Syria was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 years in federal prison, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Nicholas Michael Teausant, 22, pleaded guilty in December in a federal court in Sacramento to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The guilty plea came after a judge rejected his mental competency defense

"Mr. Teausant was fixated on violence as documented by his social media posts, his pre-arrest statements, and the nature of the group he attempted to join,” acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said in a statement announcing the sentence.

Teausant, of Acampo, California, was taken into custody in March 2014 as he headed to the U.S. border with Canada with the intent of traveling to Syria to join Islamic State, according to federal prosecutors.

Teausant made the journey after telling a paid FBI informant of his plans, according to the original criminal complaint.

He is one of a number of people arrested in the United States in the last two years for planning to join Islamic State, which controls large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The group claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Following his arrest, a psychiatric consultant hired at the request of Teausant's attorneys found he suffered from schizophrenia, and questions were raised about his mental competency, according to court records.

But after his medicine was changed and he showed improved mental health, Teausant was determined to be competent to stand trial, according to a ruling last August by the judge in the case.

(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Leslie Adler)